Moving To Spain Tips
Moving To Spain Tips
With the current instability in the EU regarding Brexit, rising rents, over exaggerated refuse collection charges and inefficient governance, many from the UK and Ireland will be forgiven for contemplating a change of environment. One overseas destination us Irish and British seem to have fallen in love with is Spain, with its mild climate, beaches and cheap beer. Many of us northern Europeans have either been on holiday here or know somebody who has, and many have possibly dreamed of making that holiday a more permanent one. So is it all sangria and sunshine? Is it as simple as packing your bags and joining the fiesta? Or is moving down Iberia way La Vida Loca? Here are just some Moving To Spain Tips we feel may be useful before you start packing the sunscreen!
Moving To Spain Tips Taking a slice of the Paella
N.I.E. is an abbreviation for Número de Identidad de Extranjero, which translates as Identification Number for Foreigners, or Foreigners’ Identification Number if you prefer. This abbreviated term is one you will become very familiar with if you are a foreigner moving to Spain. The NIE is your all-purpose identification and tax number in Spain. You need it for everything that involves a trámite or official process in Spain.
For example, you will need an NIE number to get a job, buy a property, buy a car, get connected to the utilities and, most importantly as far as the Spanish state is concerned, pay your taxes. Without an NIE number, the Spanish tax authorities are unable to assess or process annual tax payments such as income tax (IRPF), and the annual wealth tax (Patrimonio), both of which are declared by resident and non-resident property owners. There are three ways to apply for a Spanish NIE number:
1. Apply in person in Spain.
2. Apply in person via a Spanish Consulate abroad.
3. Apply through a representative in Spain
Now back home in Ireland we tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain this number via the Spanish Embassy, now we must admit on two occasions it was our fault as we needed to cancel the appointment. We were advised that the number was only given out if you intend on buying property in Spain so we left the application until we reached our new home. Long story short we availed of the services of a local agent upon arrival in Spain, for the large sum of €260 for two we received appointment dates to obtain our NIE number, in my case a wait of two months!!
It can be quite a slow process, especially during peak season, but it is important and must be a priority on your to do list before you decide to move here full time. The agent made the process a little simpler for us but in our opinion it is WAY overpriced. We noticed that the fee for an NIE is less than €10 Euro per person so where the extra €120 for an agent goes is anyone’s guess. If you have some Spanish or a local friend ask them for help and possibly to accompany you to the town hall (Ayuntamiento), your wallet will certainly thank you for it!
In the vast majority of cases if you are moving to Spain from the UK or Ireland for money you are coming to the wrong country. Yes if you are experienced and qualified in a particular field you may land yourself a well paid job in many of the big cities in the country, but from our experience, particularly in the less populated areas, wages are much, much lower than back home. It is really up to the individual or couple to think hard before coming here, if you want to work full time and earn big, particularly if you are not a fluent Spanish speaker, then we suggest you reconsider, unless you are highly skilled and well connected! If you are coming here purely for the lifestyle and good weather and money isn’t a particular concern, then we highly recommend you make the move.
For many coming from Ireland or the UK the big drop in wages can be quite a shock, (for instance a job that may yield €2,000 after taxes back home may only yield €1,000 per month here), but on the plus side rents are much lower and in most cases eating out and shopping are also lower expenses.
A bit of a clear cut point but a slightly confusing topic at times when in Spain. Obviously the primary language spoken in the majority of the country is Spanish or Castilian but if you come here for your two weeks holiday each year you can get by with little or no Spanish and communicate with most people in English. In most tourist resorts staff in bars and restaurants are required to speak both Spanish and English and more languages if needed. If you are coming here with just English then finding a job may prove difficult, particularly in admin and customer service. In many cases you might be lucky to find a waiter/waitress position or bar work.
It may sound obvious but we cannot stress highly enough the importance of learning as much of the language as possible before you come out. Invest in some classes and if you are sticking to a budget watch Spanish tv on the internet, download a good app or purchase a good book. Not only will your chances of finding a job improve but the locals will be more warming to you for attempting to speak the local lingo.
We are not just talking about summer, autumn, winter, spring, although these seasons do have a bearing on events in Spain. If you are coming here to start a new life there are many pros and cons to be considered, particularly when deciding what month is best to arrive. In our experience there is no one specific “perfect” month to arrive. We arrived in August which has the advantage of being in the middle of the warm, hot summer down south. The cons are there are tourists everywhere driving up the cost of living, long term accommodation at this time is hard to find, the streets are busy, restaurants and bars are busy and everything from an apple to a zip seems to rise in price. There are advantages however, such as additional jobs available to cater for this growing demand and there is much life, particularly in a small resort town like La Zenia.
If you arrive during the winter months finding accommodation should be much easier and the streets more calm and peaceful but many businesses and restaurants shut or close earlier, meaning less jobs and less of a buzz around the place. It all depends on your circumstances and what type of lifestyle you seek. Also keep in mind that many parts of Spain virtually shut during the summer months, particularly government offices in August. So if you are urgently waiting on an important document to be signed or approved you better get used to waiting patiently, you won’t have much choice!
As we quickly discovered opening a bank account here can take more than meets the eye. If you are a non-Spanish speaker you may seek a bank which can cater to your language needs. In resort towns like La Zenia we have found that many speak both Spanish and English so no worries there for us native English speakers. There is however a large discrepancy between current account fees. We were about to open an account with a local bank branch when we discovered that their fees were €10 a month! This seemed crazy to us and we shopped around to find a cheaper alternative. In the end we found a more reasonable €45 per year which is a saving of over €70 per year each! It pays to shop around but also make sure you have passports and if possible an NIE number to open a new account, other than that it is quite a smooth process and high on your priority list as an account is a mandatory requirement for all utilities and for an employer to pay wages into.
If you are a pensioner retiring to Spain, job opportunities may not be of concern to you but if you are one of the many young people seeking a new life away from the absurd rents of Dublin or London then a job is your number one priority to fund a new life in Spain. As we discussed above don’t expect large salaries, in most cases, but enough dinero to live a comfortable life if you wish. So are there ANY jobs in Spain? If so what can you do?
To start off it is well documented that the unemployment rate in Spain is high and if you believe solely in statistics you will see that almost one in five people is out of work here (August 2017). Now we respect statistics but they certainly don’t paint the bigger picture. The Irish government will tell you that all is improving in the country, with statistics of lowering unemployment figures each quarter, but anyone who lives there knows that many young are leaving the country in their droves and that government incentives to lure young professionals back are pitiful at best. Yes Spain does have its problems but if you want a job then you can get one with a bit of effort, it’s like anything in life. My wife was only here five days before she got offered a job and it is in a completely different sector to which she worked in before. She does have the added advantage of speaking two languages but she did put in the effort and was willing to drop her salary expectations.
If you don’t mind working longer hours at times, taking on bar or restaurant work and learning Spanish then you should have enough work to keep you going. That said it all depends on your field of expertise, if you are a real estate agent or work in the hospitality sector there should be plenty of jobs in the Spanish resorts, particularly in La Zenia where every second business seems to be involved with house rentals and sales! To sum up we suggest coming here with some savings behind you as your job search may take longer than you expected.
Cost of Living
As we have discovered, and mentioned above, the wages here in Spain are much lower than Ireland and the UK, so what is the plus side? The cost of living MUST be so much cheaper right? Well a couple of answers to that question….yes and no! For example if you are a young couple who likes to eat out regularly and do activities you will find that your money will evaporate from your bank account quite fast, like anywhere else on earth. If you have a family to feed food shopping is a little cheaper but depending on where you are it can still be quite an expense. For example here in La Zenia in August we have found that the local Lidl supermarket isn’t a whole lot cheaper than back home in Ireland.
We have found that it pays to shop around, the large Spanish supermarkets such as Mercadona seem to have a better selection of fruits, vegetables and meats at slightly cheaper prices than Lidl but again it is the height of tourist season so prices are erratic everywhere. If you are fond of a few drinks then yes Spain is much cheaper than Ireland for example. You can buy a six pack of beer in the supermarket for less than €5 which is much cheaper than home. In addition wine and spirits are cheaper. A litre of petrol as of Aug 2017 is around €1.19 a litre where in Ireland it is hovering around the €1.28 a litre mark.
The real draw for us however has been the lower rents. Currently we rent a two bedroom apartment with kitchen, bathroom, utility room and ample outside yard area for €350 per month, with a shared swimming pool on site and free waste disposal service! Now for many from Ireland this may sound like a dream. For €350 per month at present in Ireland you will be lucky to rent a tent for a week never mind a property for a month, and don’t get us started on scandalous bin charges in Ireland, is it blue bin, black bin, green bin, brown bin, arranging your bins back home is like playing trivial pursuit! For a young couple like us this has been the real draw, the chance to live together under the same roof without having to depend on parents or social housing. I have written about the housing situation before in Ireland which you can read here but for now Spain seems to have got it right.
And finally one piece of advice, if you are coming here to live and work remember one thing, it’s not always a holiday. You might come out here for two weeks thinking it is paradise, and yes it can be but don’t expect a holiday 365 days a year unless you are well off financially. It can be difficult watching tourists amble about each day, relaxing by the pool or beach and dining out numerous times a day. If you are working here you might see very little of the sun and with lower wages won’t be dining out every day, this must also be taken into consideration.
Furthermore we thought we would dispel some myths about the country too. Yes it does rain and when it rains it RAINS. Sometimes weeks worth of rain in a day, but again far less than northern Europe. Mainly tourists drink sangria, flamenco is not performed on every street and don’t always expect to have a nap in the middle of the day if you are working! The main point of siesta is to rest during the hottest hours of the day (and after a heavy lunch), so it makes the most sense to take siestas in the summer — particularly in the blazingly hot southern region of Spain.
In smaller cities, the tradition of siesta is also more palpable. Not to mention, many banks close at 2pm and don’t reopen until the next day. But in major cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, however, the siesta doesn’t seem to affect city life too much. Most shops, restaurants, and services are open all day. Only more traditional bars or restaurants still close during the afternoon.
So there are our Moving To Spain Tips . Maybe you live here and have some more Moving To Spain Tips, if so we would love to hear from you. Overall during our short time here we have no regrets about moving. The sunshine, relaxation, possibilities and the challenge of learning a new language all face us. Even if you can’t stay here full time it’s a great place for a holiday anytime of year.
Moving To Spain Tips